JAIPUR: Political circles in Rajasthan are buzzing overtime about the separate meetings that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot had with Sonia Gandhi on Thursday. While Gehlot met Sonia for 20 minutes, Pilot had an hour-long meeting with the interim Congress President in which Sonia is believed to have made a serious bid to check the factional fight between the two Rajasthan leaders.
The meetings were reportedly focused on greater coordination between the Rajasthan government and the party’s organisation in the state. The Chief Minister presented a report card about his government and apprised Sonia Gandhi of their major achievements which ranged from waiving farmer loans to freeing new industrialists of any licences for their first three years. However, Sonia is said to have been unhappy over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state though Gehlot reportedly took strong objection to Pilot making public comments about the issue.
Later, in his meeting with Sonia, Pilot reportedly complained about factionalism against him by loyalists of Gehlot. According to eyewitnesses at 10, Janpath, Pilot carried a thick blue file to Sonia. The file reportedly contained details of the Gehlot government's failure on the political, bureaucratic and law and order fronts. The Congress president, in turn, advised the feuding leaders to work in coordination and not make public attacks on the state government.
Sources say that in the ongoing tussle between the two top partymen, the high command has once again failed to bring the major issues of the state to a logical conclusion. The Gehlot camp has for weeks been trying hard to bring in a new PCC chief, create one more post of Deputy CM and extend a free hand to the Chief Minister in making political appointments and carrying out the long-pending cabinet reshuffle with a view to balance various sections of society.
In a setback to the Gehlot camp, however, despite his meeting with Sonia, the issue of shifting Pilot from the PCC has been kept on the back burner, at least till the upcoming municipal polls in Rajasthan. According to a senior CWC member, Pilot has succeeded in getting a fresh lease of life from Sonia at least till next month. Perhaps it was also for the first time that Pilot got more time than what Gehlot got with Sonia to explain his side of the story.
After the meeting with Sonia, Pilot appeared very enthusiastic and briefed the media about his meeting. He said that Sonia held detailed discussions with him on the state’s political situation and on the preparations for the upcoming municipal and panchayat elections. He added that Sonia was fully aware of the law and order situation in Rajasthan.
The developments after the meeting have come as a disappointment to Gehlot supporters. Sources say Gehlot tried to push his political agenda with Sonia but she is not in the mood to bring about any major political changes in Rajasthan at this critical juncture even as the state is heading for panchayat and local body elections.